Hybrid tugboats: tomorrow’s answer to air quality concerns



Susan Hayman, Vice President, Health, Safety, Quality & Environment, Foss Maritime, Seattle, WA, USA


Responding to changing marine emissions standards

Two of the United States’ largest ports, Los Angeles (POLA) and Long Beach (POLB) will soon have a new way to combat poor air quality – a hybr id tugboat. Together, these ports handle over 40 per cent of all containerised cargo coming into or leaving the United States. Located in the South Coast Air Basin, the ports are under pressure to meet the goals of the San Pedro Bay Ports Clean Air Action Plan. The much-touted plan touches every facet of port operations, from reducing emissions on delivery trucks to ensuring that all cargo-handling equipment is retrofitted or built to be as environmentally friendly as possible.

This sweeping proposal aims to significantly reduce health risks posed by air pollution from port-related ships, trains, trucks, terminal equipment and harbour craft of all types. Part of the plan calls for all harbour craft based at San Pedro Bay Ports (including POLA and POLB) to meet Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Tier 2 emissions requirements in the next two years.

The EPA Tier 2 requirements are part of a series of major initiatives that will reduce emissions from passenger vehicles, highway trucks and busses and non-road diesel equipment, including harbour craft. Expectations for improving air quality run high – which is where Foss’ planned hybrid tug comes in.

With the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach contributing $1.39 million to make delivery in mid 2008 a reality, the Foss hybrid tug, which will use less fuel and lower emissions, is the focus of many environmental hopes in the maritime industry. In exchange for funding, Foss has agreed to homeport the new hybrid tug in Southern California for five years.

A solution that uses proven technologies

Foss Maritime has long included environmental stewardship as one of their core values. 115 year-old Seattle-based Foss Mar itime has long included environmental stewardship as one of their core values, and recently announced that it has joined the SmartWay Transport® Partnership as its first marine operations carrier. The partnership is a voluntary collaboration between the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the freight industry designed to increase energy efficiency while significantly reducing greenhouse gases and air pollution. Developing the hybrid tug is part of Foss’ commitment to be part of the on-going global movement toward cleaner power.

Foss Maritime is working with Aspin, Kemp and Associates (AKA) to design the world’s first true hybrid tug, incorporating in its system some  technologies that have been in use for many years, and putting the pieces together in a new way. Tugboats are a good fit for the hybrid technologies because
they have extremely high power requirements, but only for short durations. The Quanta DES system, an existing hybrid technology that will be modified for use in the tug, has a flexible design that allows it to be adapted to a variety of power and duty requirements.

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